Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Five Star Squash

On an early evening a couple of weeks ago, not really paying much attention to the time I innocently 'dropped in’ on some friends and caught them in the middle of dinner. My apologies got ignored as they dragged me to the table saying I was just in time and pouring me a bumper of cabernet. Even with good friends the feeling of barging in can be awkward for a few minutes, but both friends quickly dispelled all that with their usual warmth.

Not the first time I had enjoyed food at their table, and whatever the menu for this unexpected dinner there was little chance it would be anything but delicious. There was a platter of something unfamiliar in the center of the table and I was wondering what it might be when the host said, “Try some of the roasted butternut squash.” Squash is one of my favorite vegetables but usually it’s only summer squash or zucchini that my modest kitchen skills can handle. Thinking about it, I wasn’t even certain my imagination was painting an accurate picture of butternut squash. Was that the one that looks like a pale orange gourd and hard as a rock? “That’s the one,” said Fred. “Nothing complicated really. Pretty much stock ingredients except for the Chinese Five Star spice, and you can get that at Publix.”

Wonderful flavor, light with the exotic hint of Chinese spice. I asked for and got a written recipe and the next day went off to buy what I needed, mainly the squash and the Chinese Five Star. Aside from the big and rock hard butternut squash being slightly hard to cut, de-seed and peel, the preparation of this roasted squash turned out exactly as described—simple.

Here’s what you need:
1 butternut squash (Peeled, with seeds removed a large squash will serve three or four.)
1 to 1½ tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Chinese Five Star spice
parchment paper

Cut the squash into 4-5 manageable sections.
Scrape the seeds and somewhat stubborn fibers out.
Peel the 4 or 5 pieces and then cut them into evenly sized chunks.
Put them into a large bowl, add the olive oil, salt, pepper and Chinese spice.
Toss and mix well until the pieces are well coated with oil and spices.
Pre-heat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the chunks of squash out on the baking sheet.
Bake until soft and lightly browned, usually about 30 minutes.

This vegetable will match pretty much any main course, meat or fish and likely produce a hearty, “Hey, this squash is great!” from one or two at the table. Simple, inexpensive and healthy—what more can you ask for?


  1. I love butternut squash but my last time in trying to prepare it I was stuck on the cutting and peeling. As you mentioned, it is hard as a rock so as much as I enjoy it, I'll let someone else cook it for me to enjoy. Nice post and happy you had success in your efforts.

  2. Looks great - so glad you tried it. There are many really good recipes with winter squash. I also like the summer squashes, but there's something heartier and more satisfying about the winter ones. Roasted with apples and onions, or stuffed with a chopped meat and rice mixture - they're hard to beat. Glad you enjoyed it. Hope others will, too!

  3. Made me hungry. Will surely pass this on to the wonderful cook in the house. I'm good at stirring and setting the table and sometimes my banter can be witty if people are having cocktails. Sounds like a trip to the Farmer's Market needs to be on the agenda.


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America